The Murray Creek Reservation is beautiful. Living here as a Native young person isn't. It's remote. Bleak at times.
So, the young people here are throwing away their lives one day at a time, drinking and drugging and deciding that's all life is.
Then the big OEW busful of hope starts moving across the rez, dropping off the blue-t-shirt-wearing warriors to meet as many of them as possible. They're back to nurture a work God began here a year ago.
We left a piece of our heart here last summer. "A dark cloud of impending death" - that's how the locals described their reservation when On Eagles' Wings arrived last year. Drug overdoses were at an epidemic level - slowly killing a generation of Manolo Indians.
What saddened our hearts even more was that this was among some of the earliest Native Americans to ever hear about Jesus. Long before many other tribes did. But today they are throwing out their history of faith in a passionate attempt to recover their pre-Christian culture. And viewing the Gospel more as an enemy than a friend.
A deeply wounded people. An embattled team of God's warriors. A promise in the sky.
Those are "headlines" from On Eagles' Wings challenging rescue mission to the Tomasa people. A people who have been on our hearts for a long time - but where the door has opened only this year.
Roaring River is a reservation with some of the most tragic history in all of Native America. Their story of death and injustice is all too familiar. But it's the tragedy of today that is destroying a generation of this storied people.
Every person I've asked here about the young people has answered with the same ominous word. "Drugs."
June 1, all tribal members got a "per capita" check. By the end of June, 86 Roaring River young people had overdosed on heroin. Fifteen died.
"I was just a face in the crowd."
That is how many Native young people feel when they first attend the Native youth discipleship conference, Warrior Leadership Summit.
And yet over and over again, God gets ahold of these lives. And these faces in the crowd begin to emerge as mighty warriors for Jesus!
William came to Warrior Leadership Summit seven years ago. Tonight, he shared his powerful story with the warriors.
"Before I came here to WLS years ago, I said 'If this doesn't help, I'm going home and taking my life.' But that all changed because Jesus came in. Now I'm standing in front of you guys 'cause this hope Jesus Christ brought to me."
God is on the move in Native America!
This is a very special year at the Native American discipleship conference called "Warrior Leadership Summit." We are celebrating 25 years of life-changing impact through this event you have helped make possible!
Twenty-four Years. Twenty-four "On Eagles' Wings" rescue summers.
But this was the summer like no other.
No team has ever had the challenge of reaching so many seemingly "unreachable" and unreached Native young people.
No team has been more consistent, more relentless in fighting for lives night after night after night - no matter the resistance, no matter the rejection.